The state Senate voted along party lines Tuesday to reject Brad Pfaff, Governor Tony Evers’ pick to head the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said his members were not comfortable with some of Pfaff’s actions since his appointment.
“Comments about Republicans and farmer suicide, certainly going back to some earlier changes that were made under DATCP, there’s a whole a slew of things that anybody could bring forth. But you’ve got to be comfortable. And I think as we stand here today there’s a number of members of the majority that just aren’t comfortable with Brad Pfaff.”
Pfaff was unanimously confirmed by the Senate Ag committee in February – but received zero Republican votes on the floor Tuesday, as GOP Senators essentially fired him as DATCP Secretary. The final vote was 19-14.
Democrats like Milwaukee’s LaTonya Johnson said Pfaff is extremely qualified, but had angered Republicans. “Let’s just say why we are really here. His tone and his words were not flattering to Republicans.”
In an unusual move, Evers, who picked Pfaff to lead DATCP, was in the chambers as the Senate debated his fate. Afterwards, he spoke with reporters. “There’s nobody who generates more enthusiasm and passion for Wisconsin’s agriculture industry than Brad Pfaff. Now we just threw that away, and for what reason, frankly I don’t know.”
Evers also said expectations that other appointees might need to “keep their mouths shut” in order to get Senate approval “is absolute bullshit.”